In a previous blogpost on curl pattern and hair textures, we did a breakdown of different hair types and curl patterns, with suggestions for how to care for each hair type. One of our most commonly asked questions at NaturAll is what products to use specifically for 4C natural hair, or how to care specifically for 4C hair. So we decided to dedicate an entire guide to 4C curls!
What is 4C Hair?
4C hair has the tightest curls of all hair patterns, with hairs forming tight s's, z's or coils. 4C hair shares many of the other characteristics of type 4 hair, especially similar to 4B hair. 4C hair tends to be quite fragile and susceptible to dryness. Of course, individuals with 4C hair can have different hair densities and porosities, which changes how hair behaves. However, here are some defining qualities of 4C hair:
- Hair dries out quickly, or struggles to maintain moisture.
- Individuals can experience extreme shrinkage, sometimes up to 75%!
- Hair is prone to tangles and matting if not properly cared for and regularly detangled.
- Hair is fragile and prone to breakage.
So how do you address the unique challenges (and enjoy the unique beauty!) that come with 4C hair? The trick is a natural hair regimen that keeps your hair healthy. Here are 7 tips from NaturAll.
Common myths and questions about 4C hair
Can 4C hair grow long?
It's a common misconception that 4C hair doesn't grow, or can't get long. This is a myth! Because 4C hair experiences so much shrinkage, it can feel like your hair is growing very slowly or not at all. However, if you take care of your hair, you will notice growth when you stretch out your hair. Another reason 4C hair can appear to grow slowly is because it is so fragile. Since it can break easily, it's possible for your hair to grow without you retaining the length. Keep reading to make sure you're preventing breakage and protecting your length!
What is the difference between 4C and other Type 4 curl patterns, like 4A and 4B?
While 4A, 4B, and 4C are all very curly hair types, 4C has the tightest coil or curl. It can take the form of a curl, a coil, or even a z-shape. This means that type 4C hair is more fragile and sometimes more dry than other hair types. However, it also means that 4C hair can achieve wonderful hairstyles and looks!
Why is my hair so coarse?
It is a common misconception that curlier or kinkier hair is more coarse. In fact, the curlier your hair, the thinner your hair strands, which means 4C can actually be the softest of hair types! However, other factors can keep 4C from feeling soft, such as dryness or hair damage. Keep reading for tips on how to keep your 4C hair healthy and soft!
What is bad hair and good hair?
Due to global white supremacy and the legacy of slavery, our culture still has racist perceptions of different hair types. This has created a "texture hierarchy" that praises some hair types over others. Many people with 4C hair have been told that they have "bad hair." This could not be further than the truth! There is no "good hair" or "bad hair." All hair types, including 4C, are beautiful.
1. Retain moisture.
Even if you have low porosity hair, 4C curly hair needs to be kept moisturized. The kinks and coils of 4C curls prevent the distribution of sebum (natural oil produced by your scalp) throughout your hair. This allows your hair to dry out faster than other curl patterns, so you need to take extra precautions to keep your hair moisturized. Find a good moisturizer AND a good sealant.
We recommend the Hydrating Avocado Kiwi Moisturizer and Avocado Kiwi Oil Blend for this purpose. Oils like coconut oil and olive oil, and creams like Shea butter are also effective at sealing moisture in your hair. And if you wear a protective style, don’t forget to moisturize regularly!
2. Do not over-shampoo 4C hair.
Yes, you still need to shampoo regularly to keep your scalp and hair clean- but if you have 4C hair you can lengthen the time between washes to 2, 3, or even 4 weeks. Avoid shampoos that contain sulfates or any of these other harmful ingredients used in hair products, and opt for a mild, sulfate-free shampoo like this Hydrating Avocado Shampoo.
If your hair gets dirty more often, alternate shampoo with co-wash or follow shampoo with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Wash your hair in sections to prevent tangles.
3. Detangle 4C hair... frequently!
This is extra important for 4C girls because the tight curl pattern of your hair can cause hairs to curl and coil around each other, causing tangles. Tangles lead to breakage, which hinders growth. Detangle regularly and gently, using a wide-toothed comb on damp hair (don’t use a brush!) Use a conditioner to add slip and help with the process. When you find knots, don’t yank- use your fingers to gently pull hairs out of the knot.
4. Deep condition 4C hair to retain moisture.
While we recommend most customers deep condition every 2 weeks, 4C hair, in particular, thrives with weekly deep conditioning treatments. This will keep your hair healthy, bouncy, and shiny, and will prevent snagging and tangles. We recommend NaturAll's Fresh Frozé Treatment Deep Conditioner for Dry Hair, which is a 100% natural option. It provides moisture, slip, nourishment, and strength!
Check out our blog for tips on how to get the most out of your deep conditioning routine!
5. Avoid over-styling 4C hair.
Styling products dry out your hair, build up on your scalp, weigh down your hair, etc. Touching and styling your hair excessively can also lead to breakage. Explore styles that require less styling products, or alternate between high and low manipulation styles to give your hair a break.
6. Style 4C hair with shrinkage in mind (try these styles)
Shrinkage can be frustrating because it keeps you from seeing growth, and it can also make your hair more susceptible to tangles and single strand knots. You can explore heat-free styles that stretch your hair, such as twist outs, braid outs, and bantu knots. But don't forget to embrace and celebrate shrinkage, and have fun with it! 4C hair lends itself to so many styling options.
Suggested hairstyles for 4C hair:
- Two strand twists
- Twist outs
- Bantu knots
- Buns or space buns
- As with any other hair type, you can use clip ins, extensions, or crochet braids to switch up your look or add length.
- Check out these styles that work on short 4C hair!
7. Love your 4C hair!
Some people have grown up hearing that 4C hair is unmanageable, unattractive, or otherwise undesirable. These ideas are as far from the truth as it gets! 4C hair is not only beautiful but incredibly versatile, capable of infinite styles and looks. 4C curls are also easily managed and taken care of with the correct regimen and products. Celebrate your hair with pride!